Sept. 28--the Arts Council's 35th International Folk Festival takes place this weekend and will celebrate the diverse array of cultures that comprise Cumberland County.
Today, downtown Fayetteville and Festival Park will embody that celebration with a parade, art, music, entertainment and plenty of international food. Admission is free.
Whether you're a festival first-timer or a longtime veteran, here's what you need to know.
The annual Parade of Nations is today at 10:30 a.m. Representative from countries and cultures all over the world show their pride in dance, dress and music. The route begins at Person Street and travels along Hay Street before turning on Ray Avenue. The traffic circle around the Market House offers some of the best spots to view the parade. The parade viewing stand is in front of the Arts Council at 301 Hay St. where you also will find sign language interpreters describing the participating countries.
The International Cafe stretches along the Festival Plaza promenade and into Festival Park, featuring dozens of food vendors from nearly as many countries. Plan on arriving hungry. You'll find everything from appetizers to full meals from all parts of the world. German food will return to the International Cafe after a long absence. Speaking of European food, note that Great Britain only will serve food today. Wash it down with one of several North Carolina-crafted beers at the beer tent inside Festival Park.
Local, regional and national acts will descend on three stages -- the main stage at Festival Park, the International Stage near Festival Park Plaza and the Small World Kids' Stage on Ray Avenue. There also is a Native American Cultural Showcase on Ray Avenue. Highlights on the Festival Park stage include the Kenya Safari Acrobats, who perform daring feats of physicality; the Moscow Nights, a trio who will serenade Festival Park with Russian folk music; and the Army Ground Forces Band. Plus there will be belly dancers, martial arts demonstrations, arts and crafts and strolling artists.
And while you're roaming the children's area, stop by the new Kindness Corner, which will have a collaborative art project.
GOOD TO KNOW
The festival is open today and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
For parking, there are city lots along Franklin Street, including the new parking deck, with free parking. You also can park in the lot near the former Prince Charles Hotel, behind the AIT building, on Bow Street, or the Systel parking deck on Green Street. (The Systel lot is privately owned and may have a fee). Just note that many streets in and around Hay Street will be closed today from 7:30 a.m. to noon for the parade.
Following the parade, many will reopen, while those surrounding Festival Park will stay closed. The lot behind the Cumberland County Courthouse will reopen after the parade, too. So you might need to find some roundabout routes when seeking a spot. Wear comfortable shoes, just in case you end up walking.
Bring cash. There will be ATMs on site.
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